Of particular interest was his feud with BJ Penn back in 2005. Penn was introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by Renzo’s brother Ralph Gracie, who took the gifted Hawaiian under his wing and molded him into a formidable grappler.
Penn eventually left the Gracie school and in 2005 went against Gracie tradition by calling out one of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s most revered pioneers in Rodrigo Gracie. After taking the decision win, Penn then set his sights on Rodrigo’s cousin and brother of his mentor, Renzo Gracie.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that a Gracie-trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter was calling out another, Renzo took exception to the fact that it was Penn’s father who made the call and not BJ himself.
Renzo and BJ fought to a very close decision that saw Penn win a battle of positions. Renzo would later get his revenge when his star pupil Georges St. Pierre outpointed Penn in similar fashion at UFC 58.
The Gracies are very particular about how they see the jiu jitsu game and what’s appropriate and what’s not. Bigger scrums have started over far less. Just leaving the Gracie camp can result in beef, as Tyson Griffin has learned. Although that’s crazy Cesar Gracie and not Renzo … Renzo always seemed more moderate. Then again, he did give GSP the boot after Matt Serra (Renzo’s first American black belt) asked him to. Those crazy Brazilians.